Veteran investor Jason Sugarman has added baseball merchandising brand Marucci Sports to his ever expanding investment portfolio. Mr. Sugarman has been in the private equity business for over 20 years, but he is best known for his extensive investments in sports. He is a part owner of the Los Angeles Football Club, a Major League Soccer team that will debut in 2018 with a grand stadium. He partially owns several other football teams, has stakes in e-sports, and has dabbled in L.A.’s restaurant scene as well. The Marucci investment is Mr. Sugarman’s first ever major foray into baseball and merchandising.
Marucci, a Big Name in MLB
Marucci Sports is practically synonymous with Major League Baseball. The brand manufactures the world’s most famous baseball bats. The company was founded in 2002 by Jack Marucci, who was then the head training coach at Louisiana State University. Currently, Marucci Sports is co-owned by Kurt Ainsworth and Joe Lawrence, two of the best known MLB players. Marucci made a name for itself by promoting maple wood bats over ash wood ones, which was once the most prominent material for baseball bats.
Marucci bats have been used by a number of the best known MLB players, including David Wright, David Ortiz, Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, Albert Pujols, José Bautista, and Carlos Beltrán. By 2013, more than one-third of all MLB players were using Marucci bats. The brand now makes more baseball gear, including batting gloves, aluminum bats, fielding gloves, baseball clothing, and similar merchandise.
Unlike other major sports brands like Nike, Marucci does not individually sponsor players. Instead, the brand brings in players to be part of the company itself. Marucci’s current board of directors includes José Bautista, Andrew McCutchen, David Ortiz, and Albert Pujols.
How Jason Sugarman Came to Love Baseball
Mr. Sugarman’s investment in Marucci is not solely a business decision. Along with football and soccer, baseball is one of his major passions. He likes the game because of the immense physical effort that goes into play, as well as the mental strategies players have to devise to actually win. Mr. Sugarman’s all time favorite baseball player is Clayton Kershaw, the prolific pitcher for Los Angeles Dodgers. The hometown team of Dodgers is, of course, Mr. Sugarman’s favorite team as well. Kershaw tops the baseball’s highest paid athlete’s list, along with the three-time World Series champion Buster Posey, who has an endorsement deal with Marucci.
Mr. Sugarman is invested in baseball nearly as he is invested in football. He never misses a Dodger’s game, at least not if he can help it. He hopes to cash in on the popularity of the Marucci brand, which doesn’t seem to be waning anytime soon. Mr. Sugarman’s immediate plans for his baseball fandom are to sit back and enjoy the games. Next year, the LAFC, which he partly owns, will debut at its grand Banc of California Stadium. While that presents an ambitious step for Mr. Sugarman and his co investors’, he plans to simply enjoy baseball in the meantime.